Friday, 16 March 2012

Programmers and Activities of early Nationalists

Programmers and Activities of early Nationalists

What were the programmes and activities of early nationalists? Did they succeed in their goals?

The period after the revolt of 1857 witnessed the emergence of early nationalism in the country. Broadly, it was the policies of the British, their racialism, economic exploitation of the country by them and imperialism which became main factors responsible for the growth of early nationalism in India. Western thought and education, emergence of the print media and setting up of the communication systems were some of the environmental factor that fuelled the rise of early nationalism in India.

Till 1885, the feeling of nationalism was like a rudderless boat. After the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885, the vacuum for a political organisation, felt by many, was filled up to a great extent. The early objectives and programmes of the Congress were declared to be the promotion of friendly relations between the nationalist political workers, consolidation of the feeling of national unity irrespective of caste, relation or province, formulation of popular demands and their presentation before the British and generation of nationalist public opinion in the country. All these objectives and programmes later resulted in growth of a strong feeling of nationalism among the masses.

In pursuance of this objective, the early nationalists tried to formulate the popular demands of the Indians on country-wide basis. Such an attempt also resulted in national integration and unity in a nation, which was still on the road to become one after centuries of political fragmentation.
The policy of the British to export the cheaper raw material from India for their industries back home in England, without any restrictions/duties, and import of the finished goods from there to India, was well known to the educated but the masses in the country were required to be made aware of it. The nationalists of the day brought out the economic policies of the British which resulted in ruin of the traditional handicraft industries. Failure of the growth of modern industries to help the cause of the common man was also highlighted.

The idea of swadeshi, which gained currency later, was also popularised to a considerable extent during the later part of nineteenth century.

In addition to the above, the early nationalists felt that the country should move towards democratic self- governance and raised this demand in various forums from time to time. Demand for giving the required freedom and liberties was also highlighted.

It is felt by many that the early nationalist could not achieve much, as very few demands raised by them were accepted by the British. But considering from the view that the level of illiteracy was low, nationalist feeling was dormant and it was for the first time that the concepts like nationalism, unification and swadeshi were being used and introduced, it was wrong to expect immediate discernible results. The contribution of the early nationalists in creating awareness about some of the issues of national importance, which later were caught the fancy of common man in India, cannot be overlooked.

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